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Wtih marathon season wrapping up, decades-tested veterans and couch-to-5kers alike are enjoying the best possible time of year to build base and log some serious mileage. While the coldest months often feel like a grind, it’s truly a blessed few months of pure, unencumber training time when runners everywhere rediscover the joy of pounding the pavement day in and day out. It’s a time for testing out new gear and new training plans — and perhaps most thrilling of all, it’s time for a shiny new pair of the best cushioned running shoes for the many miles (and races) ahead.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoes for Men
- Best Overall: On Cloudmonster
- Best Ultra-Plush Option: Hoka Bondi 8
- Best Affordable Option: New Balance Fresh Foam 680v7
- Best for Stability: Brooks Glycerin 20
- Best for Wide Feet: Saucony Triumph 21
- Best for Injury-Prone Runners: Nike React InfinityRN 4
- Best for Marathons: ASICS MetaSpeed Sky+
- Best Sustainable Option: Nike Pegasus Turbo Next Nature
- Best for Purists: Newton Fate 8
- Best for Everyday Life: Brooks Ghost Max
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What Are Cushioned Running Shoes and Who Are They For?
Cushioned running shoes are just that: sneakers with an emphasis on a smooth, comfortable ride via shock-absorption and a comfortable step, often (but not always) at the expense of lightness and speed. The typical culprit for identifying a cushioned running shoe is the amount of foam in the mid-sole of the shoe — more foam equals more comfort.
Best for logging easier miles, a cushioned shoe is perfect for the vast majority of runners, especially those who aren’t expressly training for speed, or those who are acutely aware of the paces and specific runs they might be encountering on a weekly basis (and what shoes to wear for each). They’re also the perfect shoe for longer distances, on account of their leg-saving properties.
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How We Tested
Our process for testing running shoes was simple: we ran. Over the course of the past few months, we’ve procured and tested a variety of styles over hundreds of miles, judging for durability, comfort, responsiveness and, of course, cushioning. Below, we’ve rounded up our findings and highlighted what we feel are some of the best cushioned running shoes on the market. From trusted brands like Nike and Newton to behemoth trainers from Hoka and Brooks, and for every shape, stride style, and foot strike, there’s a cushioned shoe out there for you. Find yours below.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoes for Men in 2023
The Best Overall Cushioned Running Shoe: On Cloudmonster
Weight: 9.70 oz | Drop: 6mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 7-15 |
It was a real toss-up in between this and the Cloudsurfer, but in the end, we’re still crazy about the Cloudmonster. On Running’s hulking release hasn’t just worked its way into our weekly running shoe rotation — it’s become our go-to choice for almost any run for well over a year now, from recovery jogs to 14-mile slogs. Featuring a massive speedboard midsole stacked high with stable CloudTec, the Cloudmonster’s rebound and energy return is unparalleled, making it as capable of surviving dig-deep miles up and down hills as crushing repeats on the track.
The Best Ultra-Plush Running Shoe: Hoka Bondi 8
Weight: 10.80 oz | Drop: 4mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 7-16 |
Hoka is virtually synonymous with plush comfort at this point, and the newest version of the brand’s hugely popular Bondi has one thing in mind: total cushion. With a whopping 33mm of pillowy foam and a rear crash pad for a smooth heel-strike transition, the Bondi 8 is like running on clouds. While it’s more or less an easy/recovery run shoe — the sheer amount of cushion means it lacks the responsiveness for anything beyond a conversational pace — the shoe is an absolute godsend for tired legs deep into a training block.
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The Best Affordable Cushioned Running Shoe: New Balance Fresh Foam 680v7
Weight: 9.70 oz | Drop: 10mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 7-16 |
There are “better” versions of New Balance’s proprietary Fresh Foam trainers — the 1080v13 is often pointed at as one of the prime examples of the maximalist running shoe movement — but for all intents and purposes, the 680v7 gets the job done just fine. It’s a simple shoe, a breathable, woven upper stacked on dual-density Fresh Foam midsole, but handles speedier easy runs nicely, clocks in surprisingly light at 9.70 oz and costs well under $100.
The Best Cushioned Stability Running Shoe: Brooks Glycerin 20
Weight: 10.10 oz | Drop: 10mm | Support: Stability | Sizes: 7-15 |
By nature, stability and cushioning are typically on opposite ends of a continuum; the thought is that the more flexible foam there is, the less firm base the shoe will ultimately have. While the Brooks Glycerin 20 is billed as a neutral cushion runner, we found it to be one of the most stable, lock-down fits of any ultra-plush shoe we tested, thanks in part to the responsive nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 foam and snug upper fit.
Best For Wide Feet: Saucony Triumph 21
Weight: 9.80 oz | Drop: 10mm | Support: Stability | Sizes: 7-15 |
Available in both the standard (D) fit and a wide fit, the Saucony FORMFIT 3D technology offers a noticeably comfortable fit when compared to its competitors, with a stretchy toe box and optimal width through the midfoot, where, with other cushioned shoes, things can get a little snug. That’s not to say that the Triumph 21 doesn’t have a cushy ride — PWRRUN+ cushioning makes sure that every step is your most comfortable yet.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoes for Injury-Prone Runners: Nike React InfinityRN 4
Weight: 12.40 oz | Drop: 9mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 7-18 |
A successor to the React Infinity Run 3, Nike’s React Infinity RN4 still offers a calculated Flyknit upper, this time stacked on a block of the swoosh’s all-new ReactX foam, which gives you 13% more energy return compared with Nike React foam. We’ve found the shoe really pleasant, almost and extension of your foot that moves in tandem with your stride during all three phases of foot strike. One word of caution — this bad boy runs half a size small.
The Best Cushioned Marathon Shoe: ASICS MetaSpeed Sky+
Weight: 7.20 oz | Drop: 5mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 3.5-13 |
ASICS’ introduction of the MetaSpeed took the marathoning community by storm, providing another full-length carbon-plated option to compete with the likes of the Nike Alphafly and Adidas Adios Pro. Clocking in only 7.20 oz, it manages to squeeze a huge stack of FF Blast foam into the forefoot of the super shoe, making it ideal for stride-focused runners.
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The Best Sustainable Cushioned Running Shoe: Nike Pegasus Turbo Next Nature
Weight: 9.00 oz | Drop: 10mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 6-15 |
When Nike discontinued the Pegasus Turbo in 2019, runners were upset. There were reports of elite marathoners stockpiling the style, allegations that the Beaverton-based brand nixed the shoe because it was simply too good, and there was a general sorrow around losing what many considered the optimal combination of cushioning and responsiveness. All of which to say, we couldn’t be more stoked about the re-release of the model, now a part of the eco-foward Next Nature line that prioritizes recycled materials and sustainable practices. While slight changes in foam stacking and tech has left the Pegasus Turbo Next Nature with less kick than it once had, it’s still a devastating cushion-performance hybrid, and can more than deliver on tough tempo runs and the occasion fartlek.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Purists: Newton Fate 9
Weight: 8.80 oz | Drop: 4.5mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 6-15 |
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Boulder-based Newton, and if you have, you might associate the running company with the clunky, cumbersome behemoths it was known for, a footwear choice pioneered by select few (old-school-inclined) runners. That’s no longer the Newton’s M.O. — their cushioned silo, the Fate 9, is shockingly lightweight, clocking in at a feather-light 8.8 oz, second only to the MetaSpeed. It’s an interesting ride, utilizing fine-tuned ergonomic design for a natural fit that you’ll have to try to believe. Plus, the latest update (we reviewed the Fate 8 last year) provides a more perfered dynamic NRG+ foam midsole for even smoother miles. If you’re a seasoned runner looking for something unique, this might be it.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Everyday Life: Brooks Ghost Max
Weight: 10.00 oz | Drop: 6mm | Support: Neutral | Sizes: 7-15 |
The maximalist Ghost Max, the latest launch from cult-followed running company Brooks, is a new direction for the brand, who otherwise excels in at lowkey, no-frills footwear that lasts for hundreds of miles and generally stays out of your way. Lowkey the Ghost Max is not — stacked upon what feels like meters of DNA LOFT v2 cushioning, the sneaker is designed as a walk-run hybrid that’s built for easy milage and daily tasks alike.
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